Chess: Small problem

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The Independent Culture
ALL I want is a decent pocket chess set. A real pocket set. One that fits into my jacket pocket. Fifteen years ago, my permanent companion was a wallet set with pieces that attached to the board by velcro. But the constant folding of the board made it eventually split, and the piece designs, stamped onto their plastic discs, faded and the old thing had to be retired.

It was replaced by an elegant magnetic set with a firm, metallic board and round magnetic pieces which did not fade with wear, the whole thing clipped into a neat, slim container. But somehow, rushing around as one does, I lost some pieces. They are probably still stuck to the legs of a chair in an office somewhere and I have never found a replacement. The set I am currently using has a 5p piece for a black pawn, a 2p piece for a knight and still does not fit into my pocket.

With Kasparov and Short in town, I thought I would be able to find a decent pocket set somewhere in London. Chess & Bridge in the Euston Road, had a wide range of sets, but those with elegant pieces were too large, and the ones with perfectly sized boards either looked as though the plastic would quickly split or had ugly pieces. The lady at Hamleys said 'they're in the corner over there', but they all had computers attached, and Harrods said that lots of people have asked for them but they do not have any. They blamed the suppliers.

So I bought a 'Springboard' set made by Lagoon Games ( pounds 6.75 from Harrods), with a twangy board that boings out into a size four times that of its container and can only be replaced by a lighting technician. It does not fit into my pocket and it is not suitable for children under 36 months because of small parts.

And when my children, their small parts notwithstanding, have eaten the pieces, I shall still be looking for a decent pocket chess set.